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People quit people or position

People join an organisation for a variety of reasons, and they usually stay or leave for just two reasons: role or relationship.

Some people join an organisation with a distorted view of the job they will have to do and thus leave when they find that the job isn’t what they expected.  I explored this recently in my post entitled “What can I be best in the world at?

So, assuming that the role isn’t the problem, why then do people stay or leave?   One of the main reasons has to do with relationships.  This is seen in both commercial organisations and in voluntary organisations, however, it is often more acute in the voluntary sector since without the wages element the barrier to exit is much lower, although the underlying drivers are often very similar.

I can’t count how many times I have heard people say they left an organisation because of what “they” did; it might be that John did this, or Jane did that, or a very popular reason is “they” offended me.  Rarely, however, do “they” include the organisation, it is someone in the organisation.  I couldn’t stand working with Steve, or I hated working for Sally, or Sam offended me.

“Some cause happiness wherever they go.  Some cause happiness whenever they go.” 

 ~ Oscar Wilde

Sometimes it is the person leaving that was the problem of course, and by leaving the problem is solved.  However, more often, it is the person causing the departure that is the problem that needs to be dealt with, and that can be inadvertent, ill-advised, ignorance or intentional.  Either way, it needs to be addressed.

In Leadership Gold, John Maxwell suggests there are four reasons that people quit.  These are:

This is clearly seen to be evident in all devaluing interactions, whether in personal, social, voluntary or business relationships.  We can’t consistently treat someone with respect, that we don’t respect, we can’t consistently invest in someone that we consider doesn’t value our investment, and we can’t consistently add value to someone we don’t value.

“We can’t consistently behave in a way that is inconsistent with our beliefs.”

~ John Maxwell

The solution: well one great solution is to intentionally presume value in people first, then add value to them, and then “catch them doing something well”.  Look for something to appreciate in them, and they will appreciate you.  

Trust is a hard-won virtue, and it’s so easily lost, and the sad fact is that when it is lost it is immensely harder to regain.  In many of the leadership feedback surveys I’ve discussed with leaders, the values that are consistently considered to be highly important and valued are trust and integrity, since a high degree of integrity is always essential to being able to trust someone.

“In every major survey on practices of effective leaders, trust in the leader is essential if people are going to follow that person over time.”

~ Michael Winston

You may like to check out my recent blog entry which refers to a story about integrity in the post entitled “The Emperor”.

Integrity is doing the right thing even when no-one will notice. 

People will naturally want to follow leaders stronger than themselves.  Sometimes that involves a leader who is more experienced in a particular competency, and this is frequently found in professional organisations, and sometimes it involves leaders who have a different skill set, as is found on a company board or senior management team, or in Project Management for example.

Either way, people will soon quit on leaders who exhibit traits of either credit piracy or blame avoidance, or who demonstrate a lack of the expected level of ability commensurate with their role.

“Leaders need to inspire confidence, and they do that, not with charisma, but with competence.” 

~ John Maxwell

Even if people are able and capable of displaying these three qualities, if a leader displays a propensity to make themselves indispensable, to try to keep information to themselves, or to appear more successful than they really are, then they are actually exhibiting signs of insecurity. 

Instead, secure leaders will often be found trying to do themselves out of a job, helping those in their team to grow in competence and capability so that they can move on to their next challenge in the safe knowledge that the previous position is filled with a competent, confident and valued replacement.

“Exceptional leaders do two things: they develop other leaders and they work themselves out of a job.”

~ John Maxwell

About Roger Fairhead

Roger is a leadership specialist delivering Leadership for Business Achievement through Speaking, Training and Coaching to business leaders and entrepreneurs.

“He is articulate, tracks complex issues with ease and has an incredible gift for raising pearls of wisdom out of the murky depths of people and process.” His passion is to help people to learn effective leadership skills to lead their teams to capitalize on their strengths and passions to realize their dreams.

Leadership for Business also invests into the dreams of families in the world’s underserved communities to offer them small loans that empower them to invest in their future, to provide for their families and give back to their communities.